Why I’m no fan of associations

by Bill Cameron

Most trucking associations are comprised mainly of large fleets. I want to spell out, for all associations, why guys like me feel detached and are unlikely to ever join.

Stop preaching. Changes in any industry must involve some degree of input from the entire industry.

I understand that the goal is to expand the membership, at which time your points may be conveyed, although in my past experience my “member input” was ignored.

We non-members resent being lectured, and repeatedly told we’re wrong in a condescending manner. We have plenty of good input and a constitutional right to express it.

Freedom to communicate shouldn’t require a special membership.

You’re an association, not an extension of government. Your ideas may actually be improved through outside input.

Stay on point. The arguments favoring speed limiters and electronic logging devices (ELDs) have been all over the map, and from my perspective, rarely accurate.

Speed limiters were initially touted as a natural progression to an already safe industry. When opposition didn’t stop, the argument changed to: “these drivers must be slowed down.”

Which is it? I was against the speed limiter law, simply because we ran a lot of high-speed jurisdictions with hilly terrain, as well as hauling heavy.

We’d done our own research and discovered speed limiters increased fuel consumption, even though our cruise speed was under 105 km/h.

With ELDs, the moveable talking point is being used again, ranging from curtailing hours-of-service abuse, to asserting that ELD users enjoy higher productivity.

Again, which is it? Our own company doesn’t travel terribly far from home. An illegal logbook would require effort, so I’m not happy about the added expense.

Will the mandate include a common sense clause, for when circumstances beyond the driver’s control force him to drive an extra 20 minutes to reach a safe stopping point? We never hear specifics, just chants of “ELDs, ELDs!”

Remember that we may be smaller; that doesn’t mean we’re stupid. Questioning our intelligence is the quickest way to gain opponents.

Some of us use older equipment because we only have a few units. Everything must run, every day.

We don’t have spare equipment, and unreliable new equipment isn’t an option. Since our equipment is either owner-operated, and/or home often, allowing higher-than-average maintenance standards, our cost of operation is much lower than it would be running newer equipment.

Just because our cost of operation is calculated differently than accepted industry P&L figures doesn’t make them wrong.

We’re not avoiding new equipment because of a lack of knowledge.

Finally, curtail the mudslinging of your loudest members. During the recession, some CEOs of the most notorious rate-cutting companies blamed guys like me for dropping rates.

We were sticking to our proverbial guns. Don’t boast of your questionable business practices, but don’t accuse me of them either.

Which brings me to one final point: Opposition breeds further opposition. If cooperation, safety, and efficiency is the goal of an association, we need open, transparent discussion, without hidden agendas or invisible walls built with association membership cards. We all need this industry to thrive and improve.

That will happen much easier and more effectively with industry-wide cooperation towards that goal.

The operational practices of members and non-members will never be identical. The end goal of safety and success, however, should be.


Bill Cameron and his wife Nancy own and operate Parks Transportation. Bill can be reached at williamcameron.bc@gmail.com.

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  • ELD users enjoy higher productivity.

    Is that not funniest thing? Like ELDs can be more productive than
    me and my paper log wanting to make money and get home.
    There is a lot of time in trucking waiting so as not to eat into the time it takes to put pen to paper.